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Akamai + Fingerbank: How an Open Source Community Can Transform Security 

Written by

Charlie Gero

February 01, 2021

Charlie Gero is a VP & CTO of the Enterprise Division at Akamai as well as leads the Advanced Projects Group. He currently focuses on bleeding edge research in the areas of security, applied mathematics, cryptography, and distributed algorithms in order to build the next generation of technologies that will protect Akamai's growing customer base. Through his research at Akamai, he has secured nearly 30 patents in cryptography, compression, performant network systems, real time media distribution, and more, and has degrees in both Physics and Computer Science. He has been at Akamai for nearly 15 years, having prior founded a startup and served in key computer science positions in the pharmaceutical and networking industries.

Charlie Gero

Isn't it amazing how seemingly simple decisions can have far-reaching effects? When the Inverse team in Montreal took over PacketFence in 2008, it was an open source (OS) solution. They recognized the inherent value in keeping it as such. In so doing, they didn't just launch a product -- they created a global community. By making a trusted network access control (NAC) solution freely available, they planted the seeds of an ever-growing community of users that now numbers more than 5,000 deployments worldwide and more than 7 million endpoints.

But that wasn't the most significant impact. By growing this OS community, they created a digital resource that is both exceptionally valuable and completely unique: Fingerbank. Today, Fingerbank is one of the most accurate device identification technologies, tightly integrated in PacketFence and enriched by it. At Akamai, we have a deep respect for what this OS community has built, and thanks to them, Fingerbank gets bigger and better every day.

Powered by community

When Akamai made the decision to acquire Inverse, we fully recognized the crucial role played by the OS community in creating Fingerbank's value. If Fingerbank was a race car, PacketFence users would be the engine. So our commitment to maintaining and, indeed, strengthening and enlarging that community is at the heart of our strategy to expand Akamai's Zero Trust portfolio.

Don't mess with success

We also recognize that when you have a winning formula, you don't disrupt it. That's why we are pleased to bring over the Inverse team to continue managing PacketFence and Fingerbank at Akamai. We plan for the group to function just as they have, delivering the legendary service their OS community has come to expect. The only difference is that they now have the technical and financial resources of Akamai behind them, committed to enhancing the value of PacketFence and Fingerbank to the user community.

Access to Fingerbank and PacketFence will be the same as before, and Akamai intends to honor all existing support agreements. In addition, we look forward to encouraging continued engagement among the PacketFence OS community through the existing forums.

What excites us

On a personal level, the technology and strategy that power PacketFence and Fingerbank are precisely what excites and motivates us as technologists. We recognize intelligent engineering when we see it and look forward to contributing our ideas to make the technology even more powerful.

What's in it for Akamai? With millions of DHCP, TCP, DNS and other traffic fingerprints, FingerBank is capable of uniquely identifying nearly 35,000 classes of devices, as well as providing detailed anomaly detection based on observed device behavior, such as Internet of Things (IoT) device visits on the network. That is critical to achieving a Zero Trust infrastructure. By combining the Fingerbank data repository with our own repository of security data, Akamai can create an industry-leading solution to apply resilient network access controls. In the future, we hope to contribute to Fingerbank by leveraging the 1.3 billion client device interactions that occur across Akamai's platform every day, all while preserving the privacy of individuals.

A shared journey

The PacketFence OS community is a very special group of forward-thinking professionals focused on fresh approaches to address the rapidly evolving enterprise security challenges. At Akamai, we share that vision -- and we look forward to taking this journey with you.

We welcome feedback and thoughts from the PacketFence OS community. Your insights will help us in our quest to deliver transformative enterprise security solutions.

We couldn't do it without you.

 



Written by

Charlie Gero

February 01, 2021

Charlie Gero is a VP & CTO of the Enterprise Division at Akamai as well as leads the Advanced Projects Group. He currently focuses on bleeding edge research in the areas of security, applied mathematics, cryptography, and distributed algorithms in order to build the next generation of technologies that will protect Akamai's growing customer base. Through his research at Akamai, he has secured nearly 30 patents in cryptography, compression, performant network systems, real time media distribution, and more, and has degrees in both Physics and Computer Science. He has been at Akamai for nearly 15 years, having prior founded a startup and served in key computer science positions in the pharmaceutical and networking industries.